New Course: The Anglo-Saxon World (and an update on Clash of the Gods schedule)
My ninth course for Recorded Books, The Anglo-Saxon World, is now available. I'm really happy with the way it came out: as always, the Recorded Books people did an amazing job with the design and production.
It can be tricky teaching in your direct specialty. My student evaluations in Anglo-Saxon used to be consistently a little lower than in my English 101 or Chaucer courses, and this was incredibly frustrating. Anglo-Saxon is, after all, my baby. But looking back over those early evaluations, I saw that I sometimes lost The Big Picture because I was so invested in certain technical questions. I now make a special effort to make sure that even as I dive into fun, technical arguments, I keep them connected to the major points of the course. I think this worked in The Anglo-Saxon World, where I have a full lecture devoted to Anglo-Saxon from the Conquest to the Renaissance and another that goes from Thomas Jefferson to Angelina Jolie. I also used more archeology in this course that I have done in the past, in part because recent work by John Hines, John Blair and Christina Lee showed me how to integrate archeological findings with other kinds of material.
The course also has a website, The Anglo-Saxon World, which right now just includes the full translations of some of the poems I discuss--some of these were too long to fit in the course book. Recorded Books also has a blog now.
If you want more Anglo-Saxon (and who doesn't, really?) you can go to Angl0-Saxon Aloud, where I've posted recordings of the entire Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records and am finishing up the homilies of Wulfstan, and, as always, I have for sale Beowulf Aloud and Anglo-Saxon Aloud: Greatest Hits.
And this is a reasonable segue to Clash of the Gods on The History Channel. I just spoke to one of the producers--they were doing final voice-over work on the Lord of the Rings episode and needed pronunciation advice--and the schedule for the series has been revised, so that the Thor episode will now be last (I hope that means an even cooler cgi Midgard Serpent) and Beowulf will be the first of my episode to air, on September 28. That's different from what the website says (some maybe you should watch on Sept 21, too, just in case), but here's the schedule they gave me over the phone:
Sept. 28: Beowulf
Oct. 5: The Lord of the Rings
"Last": Thor (I think that would be Oct 19, because Minotaur would have to be Oct 12, but I may have lost track).
[One quick story about a reason I'm so happy about the way the course came out. A number of years ago I very publicly said that we should put a fifteen-year moratorium on Anglo-Saxon books with the Sutton Hoo helmet on the cover. So of course when Recorded Books sent me the proofs of The Anglo-Saxon World, our old pal the helmet, the most overused image in medieval studies, was on the cover (very nicely done, but still...). Part of my publishing agreement is that I don't have final say over covers, marketing, etc., so if that's what they wanted to do, I was just going to have to live it with it. But all praise to Recorded Books in that they made a new cover, using an image of Bede's Life of Cuthbert from the Digby MS. So I avoid eating crow and the cover is beautful. Win!]